March 31st, 2014

8 Things You Must Have For Your Home Business

8 Things You Must Have For Your Home Business

A home business can be easy to start. A good home business, on the other hand, takes more time to develop. It’s a long process, with no guarantee of success. However, there are some things you must have for the best chance at growing a successful home business.

1. A Why

Why are you starting a home business? Money, something to do, work you love, pride in what you’ve created… what are your reasons?

Money usually isn’t enough of a reason. For all you may want to earn more money, may need more money, it may not be as motivating as you think. Do something you don’t enjoy just for the money, and it eventually gets harder to do. It’s much better to earn money from home doing something you enjoy. It may take more time, but if you succeed, it will be a lot easier to keep going.

2. The Right Business

You won’t succeed with just any business. It’s easier to succeed in the right business… for you. Not for your friend, not for that guru online bragging about earning six figures a year. The right one for you.

Consider your work experience. What do you know how to do?

Consider your hobbies. Could one become a business?

Consider your family’s needs. What works with the time you have available? Will you need to work with the kids around? Are they in school part of the day? Will you need to pay for childcare?

Consider yourself. If you don’t enjoy going out and talking to people about your business, don’t pick one that requires it. If you hate being isolated with your computer all the time, don’t limit your business to online activities. Be sure the business is something you can enjoy doing.

Consider your target audience. None of the rest matters if you don’t have people interested enough in your business that you can make money from it. Passion is great, a passionate target audience is better. Fortunately, if you’re passionate about something you can make into a business, there are probably others too. You just have to do the research to figure out how to reach them.

3. A Reasonable Schedule

While you don’t need to have every minute scheduled, or even every hour, some sort of schedule for your work is a very good idea. Without one, it’s far too easy to slack off and get too little work done in a day or even a week.

Make it as detailed or loose as you prefer. Some people love their to-do lists – others hate them. Your schedule should work for you. If it pushes you a little bit, that’s a good thing, but if it interferes with more important things, rewrite it.

4. Family Support

Any kind of business is challenging, at home or not. But to run one without family support is all but impossible. There may be concerns, worries about expenses, the amount of time it takes, the risks and so forth. Talk about them. Get support where you need it, address family concerns where you can.

This can especially mean help around the house. If you’ve been a stay at home mom for a while, everyone may be used to you doing everything around the house. Running a home business means the rest of the family may need to do a little more. Make sure everyone knows to expect some changes and maybe some inconvenience. If you keep trying to do it all, you’re only making it harder on yourself, and that’s rarely necessary.

5. A Workable Budget

Running a home business usually involves spending some money. It may be a lot, it may be a little. Either way, you need a budget, money you know is okay to spend on your business. Expenses may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Domain name and hosting
  • Website design
  • Business cards
  • Computer
  • Software
  • Product supplies
  • Shipping
  • Training

You may not need to spend money on all of these things. You may be able to put up a basic website without hiring someone to do it for you, for example… then again, it could be money very well spent to have someone else do it. You may be able to find enough free information online to get a good start to your business without paying for training.

Whenever you choose to go the free route on things you business needs, make sure it makes sense for you and your business. Free can be the worst choice at times. Any time you choose free, be sure it really makes sense. Your time is valuable, and free often means you’re spending quite a bit more of your time on something that spending money could speed up significantly. The right purchase makes sense. Remember, just because you can do something for free or close to it doesn’t mean you should.

6. Time Off

It’s very easy to spend too much time working on your home business. it can feel as though you’re losing valuable work time when you take a break, whether it’s just 10 minutes, an evening, or a nice family vacation. Time off is important. It allows you to refresh your mind. People are more productive when they take an appropriate amount of time off work, not only each day, but over the long term.

Plan for breaks throughout your work day, and have an end to your working hours every day. There may be times when your business requires extra long hours, but don’t let it happen every day. That time off you’re avoiding may be exactly what you need to refresh your mind and get control of the problems taking so much extra time.

7. The Ability To Say “No”

Any business owner needs to know how to say “no.” No to demands on your time that you really don’t have time for. No to friends and family interrupting your work time unnecessarily. No to the household chores begging you to do them when you need to work. No to more work than you can handle.

When business is good, there may be times when you need to refuse more work or take on assistants. If you can’t handle the workload, you have to decide what to do about it. Do you refuse a client or project, or do you hire someone to help you make it happen? A virtual assistant may be a good choice to help you through these times if there’s something they can handle for you. But if you don’t want to hire help, even on a short term basis, you may have to say no when too much work is offered to you.

8. The Knowledge that You’re Not Perfect

You’re going to mess things us and get things wrong. Sometimes you’ll break all the rules you’ve set for yourself. Sometimes you’ll make bad decisions. These things happen, whether it’s a mistake in your business or in how you deal with your family.

Don’t let your mistakes stop you. Learn from them. Make the changes necessary to avoid the same mistake in the future and apologize as necessary. If you demand perfection of yourself all the time, you’ll never get anything done because nothing will ever be good enough.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 17th, 2013

10 Tips To Get Started On Pinterest

10 Tips To Get Started On Pinterest

I like Pinterest. I don’t make as much time for it as I should, but it’s fun to use and sometimes drives good traffic. I’ve had a pin for one of my other sites get more than 500 repins so far, which isn’t as amazing as some get, but is still pretty good. Still, there are some things you should know as you get started on Pinterest.

1. Be sure you have permission to pin images on Pinterest.

Many people assume that they can pin just any image they want. That’s really not the case.

If you’re pinning from someone else’s site, check for a Pin It link or other indication that it’s okay to use. It’s kind of a drag when you really want to pin something, but if there’s no indication that it’s okay, you could be committing copyright infringement if someone doesn’t want their images shared on Pinterest.

2. Know if your own images are okay to share.

If it’s a photograph you took or a graphic you created from scratch, obviously it’s fine to use on Pinterest if that’s what you want. If it’s a stock image you got on another site, it may not be okay. Check your license.

There are sites that offer photos and graphics that should be free to use. Just be careful, as you can’t be absolutely certain that the person sharing it on the site actually has permission to declare it free to use. I enjoy using Open Clipart and Morgue File when I don’t have something of my own and don’t feel up to creating something.

3. Share more than stuff from your own site.

As a blogger, you’re probably using Pinterest in part to promote your own stuff. Share more than that – it makes your account more interesting for people to follow.

4. Separate your personal and business Pinterest accounts.

Pinterest allows businesses to have their own Pinterest accounts. This is a good thing. You can make your business account focused on items relevant to your business, while keeping your personal pins to yourself.

5. Use images on your site with Pinterest in mind.

Make sure the images you place on your site are Pinterest-friendly. That not only means using images where you have the copyright issues under control, but that will help draw people to your post when they see it. Make it really relevant, and use text in your images to help people know what it’s about.

6. Pin regularly.

I really don’t do this enough. I just don’t. Admittedly, this site doesn’t do that well on Pinterest anyhow – work at home stuff isn’t the kind of visual or crafty thing that does well there. Still, I like finding relevant pins to share and wish I could make the time to do so more often. Regular pinning of content, even when it’s not your own, can help you build a following so that pins to your site have a chance at a wider audience.

7. Connect with your Facebook and/or Twitter account.

You can use your Facebook or Twitter account to log into your Pinterest account. This also make it easy to share your pins through those accounts.

8. Use keywords.

Use relevant keywords as you write descriptions for your pins. This makes them easier for people to find when they search Pinterest.

9. Make pinboards relevant to blog posts.

A pinboard of relevant content can be a good supplement to a blog post. You can start it simple and make it grow over time. Link to the pinboard in your post, and don’t forget to include any content of your own that relates.

10. Don’t expect immediate results.

As with any other free promotion method, it takes time to see results for Pinterest. You have to build a following and get a feel for the things that do well on Pinterest.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 30th, 2013

What’s Your Pitch?

What's Your Pitch?

“Can you sign this? Please?”

That was the entire pitch of a guy asking people to sign a petition outside a nearby store the other day. I don’t know what the petition was for, and frankly, I don’t care. He didn’t give me any reason to care. He didn’t have any sort of a pitch ready for why people should sign.

You need to have a good pitch when talking about your home business. “Can you buy from me? Please?” won’t bring in much business at all.

Look Professional

Whether you’re talking to someone in person about your home business or connecting with them online, you need to look appropriate for a professional in your industry. This varies by industry.

One thing it is not for most industries is scruffy, dirty clothes. The guy with the petition looked as though he hadn’t shaved in a day or two, and his clothes were sloppy and filthy. If you’re meeting someone in person as a professional, you should dress appropriately.

Online, your behavior shows your professionalism. A part of your pitch is how people perceive you. It builds trust.

That means your website doesn’t look slapped together by some amateur. Most often that means owning your own domain name and paying for hosting. Some can get away with using free services, but why give yourself that disadvantage when the costs of domain names and hosting aren’t that expensive if you’re serious about your online business?

There’s also your behavior on social media sites such as Facebook. This is why you should separate your personal and professional profiles on such sites. You’re free to be you on your personal profiles, while projecting the right image as a professional on that profile.

Plan Your Pitch

Obviously, “Can you sign this? Please?” was a lousy pitch, so much so that most people would know better than to use it. No one is going to be interested in what you have to offer if you don’t state clearly what it is.

You need more than the bare facts too. People care far more about benefits than features, especially if you only have a moment to speak to them. Most times when I see people collecting signatures on petitions, they say things such as “Protect our schools,” and leave the explanation for when they have your attention.

Your initial pitch doesn’t have to be long – many people suggest having an “elevator pitch,” which is a short statement about your business, about 30-60 seconds long. It’s designed to create interest in more information.

These days, however, you may want to go even shorter. Just think how little space you have to present a statement on Twitter. What do you do to impress someone in just a sentence or two? How will it bring them into a conversation with you?

Don’t think of this as a sales speech. You’ll bore people that way. Think more about what you have to offer the other person, not on how you can sell them. People are more interested in things that benefit them, not you.

You really have to listen to what the other person is saying as you talk. Sometimes that means telling them to give their business to someone else. That’s not a bad thing. You become a more trusted resource when you can give solutions other than just the ones that profit you.

Don’t think of your pitch as something written in stone. Have some general ideas for how to present the benefits you offer to others, but adapt to the needs of your audience. Overall, you should get much better benefits by being flexible and attentive to the needs of others.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

August 26th, 2013

Do You Know What You Want to Achieve?

Do You Know What You Want to Achieve?

One of the biggest problems many people have in working at home is information overload. They get so much information about so many opportunities they just don’t know what to do. It keeps them from taking the actions they need to take in order to succeed. But there’s a simple solution. It begins with knowing what you want to achieve.

When you know what you want to achieve, it allows you to stop looking at all the other shiny opportunities out there. You can tell yourself that they’re just distractions. This takes self control, and not everyone is good at it, but if something not directly related to what you want to achieve right now gets your attention, you can always bookmark it for later. Odds are good that later will never come for that particular shiny, but that’s not the point of bookmarking it. The point is to deal with the distraction and get it out of your path for now. If it’s useful later, it will still be there.

What Skills Will You Need?

Once you know what you want to achieve, you need to know what skills you will need to reach that goal. Assess yourself and decide what you need to learn, then seek it out. Sometimes you will have to buy the information you need (carefully!); other times you can learn it for free just as well.

Don’t feel bad about spending money when it’s necessary to your success. The problem many people run into with information products is that they buy the wrong ones. Either they aren’t relevant to what you’re trying to do or they aren’t a quality resource. Money is well spent when it makes it easier for you to earn even more money. It’s wasted if you do nothing with whatever you bought. Be picky and only buy when you’re ready to make use of your purchase right away and you’ve researched it enough that you’re confident that it’s the right choice.

Take Action

Skill is not the only thing you need in your path to success. It’s important, but it’s not the only thing. You can read up all you want, feel as though you’ve got what it takes, but until you take action it all means nothing.

Don’t take action for a week or month or two and then give up because you aren’t seeing progress. Not everything works that fast. Give any project you have decided on enough time to know whether or not it’s going to work out for you. Success for most people is slow and tedious. Only a few hit it big quickly, no matter what the sales letters promise.

Be sure you’re taking enough action. A half hour of work a day isn’t going to get you very far very quickly. Commit yourself to work as much as is reasonable for your situation. Don’t forget family and personal time, but the more you work the sooner you should see results. With small children in the house, this could mean working early mornings or nights, while with older kids this could mean working while they’re in school. Whatever your available work hours are, make the most of them.

Know When To Keep Going Or Stop

Whatever you do, keep your focus on your current project until you know whether it has failed or succeeded. Don’t drop it too soon for something else, and be careful about dragging something out that just isn’t working for you. It’s easy to get too committed to something that will never work out for you, just because you like it and you hope to make it work one day. You don’t want to let go too soon, but holding on too long and not trying something new is a problem too.

Failure is important too, after all. It teaches you what didn’t work, but also things that might work elsewhere. There is no idea, no matter how great, no matter how well targeted the audience, that will work for everyone.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

July 31st, 2013

Do More Than Think Positive. Take Positive Action!

Do More Than Think Positive. Take Positive Action!

Many people believe in the power of positive thinking, especially when they run a home business. And there’s no denying that positive thinking is important; if you alway think negatively about your chances of success, you probably won’t succeed. But when it comes right down to becoming successful, do more than think positive. Take positive action.

Action is a much greater commitment than merely thinking. You can think positively for your entire life, but until you take action, nothing will happen.

Direct Your Thinking

Thinking about success in your home business can help you if you direct it toward solutions you will use to reach your goals. Brainstorm. Plan out the steps you need to take to improve your business. Make your thoughts into actions.

Don’t overthink – this becomes a form of procrastination. You need some clear steps to take toward your goals, but you can’t plan the entire journey at once. Plan your next steps and consider where it is you want to go, but remember that your plans may change as you make progress.

What Actions Do You Need To Take To Succeed?

There are certain actions you must take if your home business is to succeed. What are they? It’s not just spending 5 hours a day 5 days a week or whatever you’ve decided – what are you doing during those hours that will help you succeed? Generating leads? Writing content? Social media marketing? Make sure your work hours include plenty of the things that do the most for your home business, but don’t neglect the little background things you have to keep up with.

Don’t Worry About Being In The Mood

There may be days that you just aren’t in the mood to work, even though you know you ought to. Get to work anyhow. You wouldn’t let that mood stop you if you worked for someone else – don’t let it stop you when you work for you. You’re a better boss to work for, aren’t you? Odds are you’ll be just fine once you get started working.

Go For Extraordinary

Some days your business may seem as though it’s just one in a crowd. With just about anything you do, you’re going to face competition. Think about the actions you can take that will move your business from ordinary to extraordinary.

This doesn’t have to be in a big way. You might offer better customer service or be more personal than other businesses in your niche. You might share better advice. Whatever your business offers, make it great. Make it memorable. Make it easy for visitors or customers to keep coming back to you.

What’s It Going To Take?

It’s not always easy to take positive action. Sometimes you just want to do something else.

What will it take to keep taking positive action? What motivates you?

Reward yourself for taking action sometimes. Set goals and rewards. Don’t make the rewards out of line for the accomplishment, but make them motivating to you.

You can also set consequences for yourself if you don’t take action. Ideally make it something good for you, such as an extra mile on the treadmill or elliptical when you go workout if you don’t get your day’s work done, or skipping a treat you might have otherwise enjoyed. As with accomplishments and rewards, keep it in line with what you didn’t do. Consequences should relate only to things under your control, not things that require action from others.

Don’t use consequences if they will take away from your focus, however. You want to be positive about your home business, and for me, keeping things positive in general works best.

Keep That Positive Mindset

Do what you can to keep a positive mindset about your business. Read posts on sites such as Zen Habits. Look at how far you’ve come. Imagine how far you’ll go.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.